What I saw at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday made me sick to my stomach. It ruined what otherwise was a good weekend at the track, the marvelous speedway that should be a blueprint for what racing should be. Everyone knows the story by now. Matt Kenseth decided to retaliate and knock the leader out of the race—on purpose. You may say I can’t prove that, but actions speak louder than words.
I’ve been following this sport longer than many people have been alive. I’ve seen retaliation, but nothing on this scale. I can’t remember an action that changed the entire championship situation just to get even. Before you say Dale Earnhardt did it or Carl Edwards did it, that is not the case. Earnhardt’s actions were usually going for a win. This was blatant and uncalled for.
It all started last year. The altercations started when the usually mild-mannered Kenseth chased Brad Keselowski and put him in a headlock over relatively minor rubbing. Several drivers applauded that action and others against the opposition drivers. It started to boil when Kenseth was spun by Joey Logano at Kansas Speedway two weeks ago. Kenseth never got over it, said he wouldn’t talk to Logano, and continued with some pointed radio transmissions at Talladega. It was eating him alive.
During Sunday’s race on a restart, Keselowski was tagged from behind trying to let teammate Logano get back to the lead and Kenseth got tagged. These were basically racing accidents, but Kenseth could not let it go and planned his revenge. In the later stages of the race, with Logano leading and pulling away, Kenseth took his disabled car back into the fray. Going slow, he waited until Logano passed on the outside and turned directly into him, shoving him up to the wall and destroying his Ford Fusion and probably taking him out of the championship picture. He used the excuse that a tire went down and he couldn’t turn his car. Sitting in the press box looking down on the track and the accident just below me, that wasn’t the case. It was revenge and something that should not be a part of the sport I’ve loved for a half century.
NASCAR needs to act swiftly and put an end to this. Part of the problem is the elimination feature of The Chase. Drivers will do things that they probably wouldn’t otherwise, but this crossed a very narrow line. Kenseth should be parked this weekend at Texas, levied a hefty fine and docked championship points. This cannot continue if the sport wants to remain professional and draw fans. Larry McReynolds, who was crew chief for Dale Earnhardt simply said it best today on Dave Moody’s Speedway show on SiriusXM radio.
“If they only give him (Kenseth) probation, which means absolutely nothing, I’m going to the nearest trash can and throw up,” McReynolds said.